Distribution is of the big challenges facing any organization or company looking to move the dial in a significant way in delivery of modern lighting and energy services to the off-grid poor.
Distribution in a replicable and scalable way is an even greater challenge. Many organizations look to co-opt and collaborate with NGO's in rural health and other outreach focused groups operating on the ground already. The problem that often occurs is that the distribution is now contingent on the quality, consistency and availability of those various groups. This is not a highly scalable approach, though one that has certainly added value for many small companies in aggregate.
Getting from a regional warehouse to a customers home often doubles the cost of a system by the time you include transport costs, chain of custody, installation etc. So how does an organization or company with a solar product or service to offer develop a last mile delivery model that can go to scale?
Off.Grid:Electric sees the key to replicable distribution in understanding the regional context and constraints, and building it in to every facet of a design/manufacture/distribute/support business model. What this means is that systems must be designed to be installed by low skilled technicians, materials must be designed for longest possible life and lowest possible maintenance (there is little to no existing service infrastructure in East Africa) and last mile delivery must be done in an extremely efficient manner.
This blog post is intended to serve as a spark to engage members in discussing the pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses of various last mile delivery models they have seen, tried, use now or scrapped.
A big thanks to Evan for leading the charge on this new site. If we keep it on topic and substantial, it could be a great tool for our niche industry!